On July 25, 2005, William Ray Norwood, Jr. better known to the world as Ray J, released his classic single, “One Wish.” Whether you agree or not with this next statement doesn’t matter, for its truth is indisputable: “One Wish” is one of the greatest songs of all time of ever.
Fifteen years later, “One Wish” still sounds as prescient and as necessary as it did on that warm July day in 2005 when it was unleashed upon the world. I hear you looking at me, possibly saying to yourself, “what is wrong with this fool, ‘One Wish’ is cool and all but you bein’ real hyperbolic, P!” Am I? Maybe. But allow me to present a case. Or don’t, but I will anyway. It’s my one wish. Do you see what I did there? You probably do. Let’s keep it movin’, yeah yeah to the K.I.M.
Here are 6 reasons why Ray J’s “One Wish” is one of the greatest songs of all time of ever.
1. Let’s just start at the top, the Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins production is top-notch. It’s just a good damn piece of music. There’s some solid piano work, some solid MIDI-orchestra work leading into the hook, it has a nice swing to it. I mean, if you were trying to make one of the best songs of ever, that’s not a bad place to start. I needed to start here because we’re about to go on a Ray J-a-thon in the next 5 bullets. Buckle up, Buttercup.
2. Woooooo chile, this nigga Ray spittin’. Let’s call a spade a spade, his vocals are so bad on this song that they’re actually really good. I know that makes no sense but it is also clearly by design. And I don’t mind Ray J’s vocals at all, like, in general. Would I ask Ray J to sing at my wedding (or funeral), probably not, but if he promised to sing “One Wish” I might. Also, I’ve never seen Ray live. I cannot imagine him trying to sing this song live. Half of the notes don’t even sound like you could chart them. There’s some straining. But even through the somewhat strained Amerie-esque vocalizing, he is dropping bars. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, just know like the meme says, this motherfucker spittin’.
3. You know why this song is also so good? You literally cannot hear anybody else singing it. It’s such a signature song that Ray is literally the only human being I can imagine performing this song. I think it’s a testament to the vocal stylings provided on the record. I mean, Ray J, a nigga who was not birthed to sing and do vocal runs, does runs. His runs sound painful, almost like he had tried to cry though some pain to get to them. I love it. I mean there is a real, true to life vocal run that he does here that I’m almost entirely sure you could put in a museum as the only distinct performance of its kind. No cap (as the kids say), I love this shit. I have tried to do it twice this morning and while I cannot land them shits, Ray J can’t either but he makes me believe I can. At the same time, this nigga had a top 2o hit doing it so who am I to judge, really? Ray J da Gawd.
4. Perfect. Karaoke. Song. This is indisputable. You know how there can only be one Diamond at the strip club and that should go to the best dancer? Well, that’s how I feel about “One Wish.” Only the person who truly gives 110 percent at all times should be able to sing “One Wish” at karaoke night. You can’t be a person who gives, say, 75 percent. You need body gyrations and movements to hit those notes.
5. The video. ZOMG THE VIDEO is the most wonderful thing ever. For one, I would argue that it is the last good dancing in the rain video. I don’t even have post-2005 comparisons off the top of my head, but I’m so sure that they don’t come close that I’m ready to die on this hill. Rihanna’s “Umbrella”? Eh. Child’s play. Plus, for half of the video they’re throwing CGI-water at her. It’s just not the same. I mean, this nigga Ray J is ticking during the video. Doing whole foot stomps and shit. Also, there’s really no good reason to be outside singing in the rain in this video. For one, pneumonia. For two, that shit is stalkerish and probably not exactly going to increase his chances of seeing one of his 6 (or 14) wishes through (we’re getting there). Also, did he go back on a rainy day just to dance in the rain in front of her house in hopes that she’d see his dedication? Because it’s not raining when he’s calling her trying to get into the house and dream sequencing successfully getting that second chance. Just saying, there’s no reason to be dancing in the rain, but Ray J believes that rain-dancing takes it to the next level. I agree. I love it.
6. The song is called “One Wish.” By my count, Ray asks for 6 wishes (I could make a case that he asks for 14) even though he says he’ll be okay if he gets one, but he never quite points out which one he would prefer. Also, calling a song “One Wish” where you say “here’s my wish list” is banoodles. For starters, assuming that there’s a genie present, he offers up 2 wishes—a heart-changing love and a….let’s talk about this second one. He says, “second one, I’ll take yours and fill it all up.” I don’t know if he means he’ll take her heart and fill it all up, which, morbid. Or if he means he’ll take her wish and fill it all up, which, selfish. Also, I don’t know how you fill up her wish. Maybe her wish is a balloon. Either way, it’s a wish. An odd one, but a wish nonetheless. For his third wish—standard issue genies usually come with 3, as per Genie in Aladdin—he stops short and lets us know that he’d be okay if he got one.
But then this nigga Ray goes balls to the wall with his requests. And again, I really have no idea which wish he wants. I can’t decide if there are four wishes here where every wish is a subset of the main wish or if these are all separate wishes. Also, considering how many wishes he puts on the table here, I really do not believe that he’d be okay if he just got one.
If I had one wish, we would be best friends (1)
Love would never end (1 or 2) , it would just begin (1 or 3)
If I had one wish, you would be my boo (2 or 4)
Promise to love you (2 or 5), trust me I’ll trust you (2 or 6)
If I had one wish, we would run away (3 or 7)
Making love all day (3 or 8), have us a baby (3 or 9)
If I had one wish, I’ll make you my whole life (4 or 10)
And you’ll be my wife (4 or 11), make it right this time (4 or 12)
If I had one wish.
Now you might think my bringing up the confusion or lack of transparency on just how many wishes he wants would be a knock, it’s not. This elevates the song because we know he’s trying to re-woo his woman and he’s making it up as he goes, which is why she probably left him in the first place which makes this shit an allegory.
Ray J allegorized a whole song where he says he only needs one wish to get his woman back, but he’s lying (he’s asking for many wishes) which is why in the video she doesn’t answer the phone and leaves him hanging requiring him to dance in the rain when he doesn’t really have to.
“One Wish” is a song about the real reason relationships break up: promises you don’t intend to keep. Ray J is out here putting his game down flipping it and reversing it in the name of relationship psychologists, which proves that Ray is a thinker like none other.
GOAT. Song. Happy 15th birthday, “One Wish,” you crafty motherfucker you. And salute to Ray J da Gawd for learning us something even when we were just trying to watch a Black man dance in the rain.